Following are excerpts from Mayor Anthony A. Williams's inaugural address:
As I stood before you four years ago, I was filled with ideas and ideals, eager to get started and, yes, perhaps a bit green in foreseeing all the challenges awaiting us. However, over the past four years, we began confronting those challenges, together as a community. I promised to make the government work for all -- to go from "I don't know" to "I'll find out." . . . We came together, we worked together and we achieved together. More than 11,500 children now have a safe place to go after school in their neighborhood because 90 community organizations opened their doors. More than 10,000 citizens participated in our Citizen Summits and our Neighborhood Action initiative. We resurfaced more than 2,000 blocks in every corner of the District, answered more than 750,000 telephone calls a year, welcomed new retailers to long-neglected neighborhoods, and balanced our budget every year -- even at a time when other cities and states have gone into staggering deficits.
And on September 11 -- and during the dark months that followed -- we showed the world what it means to be the capital of our nation.
I stand here today a wiser man, learning as much from the mistakes of the past four years as from our successes. I bring an awareness of our fragile economy -- both here and nationally; a deeper understanding of the needs and challenges we must meet; a personal commitment to the highest standards of excellence and ethics; and an even greater respect for the voice of the people. . . .
From my conversations with citizens . . . three themes stand out, three priorities that must guide us over the next four years: education, opportunity and public safety. . . .
We will increase our efforts to help attract and retain excellent teachers by offering competitive salaries and incentives such as our homeownership assistance. We will do all we can to make sure they have the tools they need to teach our children, and we will work closely with the Board of Education and the Public Charter School Board to establish clear expectations of accountability for teachers and administrators. . . .
As mayor, I have a moral obligation to all our children, wherever they attend school, an obligation that I hold sacred. I will serve as an advocate for the parents and grandparents of this city, joining them in all they do to teach our children. Because it will take all of us together to make sure that every child -- every child -- starts school ready to learn, enters third grade proficient in reading and begins seventh grade able to excel in math. . . .
The second theme that emerged from the people so powerfully is that we must expand opportunity for all. . . .
It is not acceptable for one in five of our residents to live in poverty. It is not our destiny to be a city of rich and poor. That is why I will dedicate much of my energy and resources over the next four years to opening doors of opportunity for everyone in this city. . . .
Over the next four years, we will focus our housing efforts in three critical areas: housing for homeless and very poor people, affordable housing for working poor families and homeownership for low- to moderate-income people. . . .
Expanding homeownership is critical if we are to expand our tax base, which we must do if we are to continue building the affordable housing and providing services our people need most. . . .
The third thing that people have said again and again is that crime in our nation's capital is still too high. Public safety must be a linchpin of any strategy to improve the neighborhoods we love so much. . . .
I pledge to put even more police officers into our neighborhoods. . . .
Over the next four years, we will continue our progress in bringing the crime rate down in the District and bringing it down in our neighborhoods. And that starts with reversing the recent increase in the number of murders. I am not willing to sacrifice one more young person to senseless violence; one more young man to the criminal justice system. . . .
We will never get drug dealers off our streets until we make substantial progress in shutting down the demand for illegal drugs. . . . We must increase access to affordable, effective drug treatment programs for our residents. Because for many, access to treatment can make the difference between a life addicted and a life lived freely. . . .
But despite everything we do to make our city safer, we may never feel completely safe again. That is the legacy of September 11. . . . But I vow this city will be prepared if, God forbid, we come under attack again. We have accomplished much to strengthen coordination and communication with federal, regional and local governments, the private sector, service providers and, most importantly, our citizens. And we will continue to improve our state of readiness. We will do all that we can to keep our city safe -- but open -- for our residents and visitors.
And, yes, there is one more commitment I must make to you today. In our efforts to provide a government on which you can depend, we will continue to aggressively pursue those in government who defraud the taxpayers and betray the public trust. You may -- you will -- hear about government waste, fraud and abuse over the next four years. You will hear about it because I will not tolerate it in my administration. Those who steal will get caught and will get prosecuted to the fullest extent of our laws. I have put in place the highest standards for ethics and performance because that is what it takes to maintain the public trust, your trust. You can count on me for that.